Mushtaque Mohammed inducted into Sports Hall of Fame in T&T

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, March 30, 2023.- Mushtaque Mohammed, the former T&T Volleyball Federation President and current president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association CAZOVA was inducted into the First Citizens Sport Foundation Hall of Fame in Trinidad and Tobago.

The 60-year-old Mohammed was one of the nine current or former national sports personalities who were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2022 First Citizens Sports Foundation Awards ceremony themed ‘Passing the Baton’ which was held at MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, on Sunday.

The winner of the 1993 WITCO Sport Foundation Administrators Award as head of the T&TVF Mohammed, and a member of the Federation International Volleyball (FIVB) Executive said, “this recognition is indeed a humbling and proud experience”.

He added, “When I started in administration it was never to get recognition but to assist the development of the sport, however, being recognized for your contributions is always a good feeling especially when it is from a national perspective”.

The Piparo-born Mohammed added, “Induction into the Hall of fame is a great recognition, and it means that my involvement is now etched into the history of Sports in T&T”. 

A Vice President both at the FIVB and North Central American and Caribbean Confederation of Volleyball (NORCECA) Mohammed stated, “I came from a very humble beginning playing sport in my village in Piparo and with the discipline, dedication and the pursuit of excellence, I was able to make this contribution to sport as a volunteer, serving selflessly at all levels to positively impact the youth and our society at large”.

Among his achievements, Mohammed was key to the success of the T&T senior women’s volleyball team’s qualification to two major events, the FIVB Women’s Grand Prix and World Championships, the first time ever in both instances as a result of his assistance to the T&TVF in planning and developmental program which commenced in 2009 and formed the pathway for T&T to qualify for the 2018 FIVB World Championships which was held in Tokyo Japan.

Mohammed was also the pioneer and first president of the National Schools Volleyball Association, which was formed in September 1990, and assisted with organized tournaments in the schools and paved the way for the development of our younger volleyball players to become National players.

The development of sport was trusted upon him in NORCECA in 2001 and since then the sport in the islands and Central America has grown significantly, which led to him being recognized by the FIVB and appointed as President of its Development Commission in 2016.

The FIVB  has trusted the Development Commission on his shoulders since May 2017 and the development of the sport has initiated many new projects to enhance the growth of both volleyball and beach volleyball.

As an official Mohammed has participated as supervisor of numerous multi-sports events such as the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, Pan American Games, NORCECA Tournaments, FIVB World championships, World Cups and three Olympic Games.

Italian Coach to join Puerto Rico’s National Team Program

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, March 29, 2023.- Dr. César H. Trabanco president of the National Voleibol Federation of Puerto Rico announced on Sunday, that Italian coach Luca Cristofani will join the National Team Program this summer.

Cristofani has an extensive coaching resume with the Italian National Teams and professional leagues. Since 2022 up 2017 he coached in different international events and in others as an assistant coach, in tournaments such as the 2010 Women’s World Championship in Japan, several editions of the European Championship and the U18 and U23 Women’s World Championships, among others.

While coaching the Italian Women’s National team, Cristofani won the bronze medal at the U18 World Championship, coincidentally held in Puerto Rico in 2015.

“We started off working about the idea of bringing Luca Cristofani to Puerto Rico since last year during the Women’s World Championship in the Netherlands, because we want to identify the areas, we must work on to improve our training program with the Senior and Junior National teams, in women and in men, for the important obligations we have this summer and the rest of the year” explained Trabanco. 

 “Luca Cristofani is a coach with great experience in Italy and internationally, because he was also coach of the Women’s National team of Peru  (2011-2013)”, said the sports leader. “He will collaborate and advise our coaches appointed to our National Teams Program for a period of 60 to 90 days”, Trabanco added.

“He is interested in helping our program. We have met on two occasions, and he has asked for video footage of our junior teams. This will be of great help for our National Teams Program”, Trabanco pointed out.

Last year, Cristofani coached the Bartocini Fortinfissi Perugia Volley in the Italian A1 Series. And in the 2020-21 season he was the coach of the Roma Volley Club in the Italian A2 Series, which he led to first place and to move up to the A Series.

Cristofani will arrive in Puerto Rico in June.

Puerto Rico has several international competitions this year in every category, including the Pan American Cups, the Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification Women’s tournament in Japan, the Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador and the Pan American Games in Chile, among others.

FIVB Announces Qualification Process and Competition Format for Inaugural Volleyball U17 World Championships in 2024

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 28, 2023.- The FIVB has officially announced the qualification process and competition format for the inaugural editions of the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ and Boys’ U17 World Championships which are set to be held between July and August next year.

2024 will mark the debut of the U17 World Championships, which will be held every two years thereafter, as the FIVB strives to provide more opportunities for talented young volleyball players to participate in world-class, international events.

A total of 16 teams per gender will participate in the first edition of the tournament, with teams able to qualify via the respective Age Group Continental Championships held in 2023. One quota space will be allocated to the host team, while three quota places will be available per Continental Confederation.

The FIVB Volleyball U17 World Championships will be held over eight days, with a rest day on the fourth day of the event. Eight matches will be played per day, resulting in a total of 56 matches throughout the course of the competition.

The preliminary rounds will be played in a round robin format with four pools across days 1-3 of the tournament, with the top teams from each pool advancing to knockout stages. The eighth-finals, quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on the days 5-7, culminating in the finals on day 8.

Meanwhile, the bottom two teams in each pool following the preliminary rounds will compete in classification playoffs for positions 9 to 16 of the final results.

Cheng and Hughes continue in spectacular form with Tepic Gold

TEPIC, Mexico, March 26, 2023.- Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have been a force in the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour since they became partners for the second time in their careers, last November, and the Americans celebrated their fourth title in the last four months on Sunday, at the Tepic Elite16, in Mexico.

The two dropped their first set in the tournament to Brazilians Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patrícia Ramos in the gold medal match at the Amado Nervo Auditorium, but still managed to overcome the reigning world champions in the tie-breaker (21-14, 15-21, 15-10) and stand at the top of the podium. Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho took bronze.

All Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16 matches are available on demand on VBTV.

Cheng and Hughes have been nearly unstoppable in their second stint as partners, having won four of the six Beach Pro Tour events they competed at since their reunion, including the 2022 Beach Pro Tour Finals.

Champions also at both the Challenge and the Elite16 tournaments held in Torquay, Australia, last year, the Americans have won 29 of the 33 international beach volleyball matches they played in the last four months.

“It’s been amazing,” Hughes reflected. “I’m so happy to be playing with Kelly and just working with our entire team. We’re putting together the right strategies and working as hard as we can. We have all the support back home and that’s what makes a good team.”

Hughes and Cheng dropped only one set in their campaign in Tepic

Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16 – Results

After a brief point exchange in the first few plays, Hughes started to make a defensive impact in the match and generated and converted several counterattacks, giving the Americans an 11-7 lead. An ace from her increased their advantage to 13-7 right before the technical timeout. Forcing errors from the Brazilians and maintaining their side out steady, Cheng and Hughes remained in control until the end and won the set 21-14 with a kill from Hughes.

The Brazilians started the second set stronger and jumped ahead at 5-2 with a block from Ana Patrícia on Cheng. The two took a 12-9 lead into the technical timeout and improved their advantage to five points at 15-10 when Cheng made an offensive error. More stable, the South Americans had no issues continuing ahead until the end and tied the gold medal match when Duda put the ball down with a tip to make them win the set 21-15.

Both team’s offences started the tie-breaker in a good rhythm and the Americans got the first break at 6-3, with Cheng blocking Ana Patrícia and Hughes digging the Brazilian blocker and putting the ball down in consecutive plays. A transition kill from Duda and a hitting error from Cheng brought the difference down to a single point at 8-7, but the Americans got back-to-back points to get up 10-7 and secured the title with a block from Cheng that ended the set 15-10.

Hughes hits around Ana Patrícia’s block during the gold medal match

Clancy and Mariafe stepped on the podium for the second time this season and the fifth in their last six events by taking bronze in Tepic and repeating the finish they got in the season-opening Doha Elite16, held in February.

The Tokyo Olympic silver medalists had to work hard, but downed Italian qualifiers Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi in the tie-breaker (16-21, 21-17, 19-17) to finish third in Mexico.

The Beach Pro Tour continues next week, with a Futures tournament set to take place in Coolangatta Beach, Australia, from Wednesday to Sunday. The next Elite16 event will be played in Uberlândia, Brazil, from April 26-30.

Participating Teams revealed for FIVB Age Group World Championships 2023

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 24, 2023.- The FIVB has revealed a strong lineup of teams for this year’s Age Group World Championships with the world’s rising volleyball stars from all five continents set to showcase their talent on the global stage.

The lineup reveal follows the announcement of the hosts and dates of the FIVB Age Group World Championships in the U19 and U21 categories as the excitement for these events continues to build.

The Drawing of Lots for the women’s edition of the U19 World Championship, the men’s edition of the U21 World Championship  and the U19 men’s competition are set to take place on 31 March in Lausanne, Switzerland and will be livestreamed on the Volleyball World YouTube channel. Meanwhile, the U21 women’s event draw will take place in Mexico City on 12 May 2023.

The U21 World Championship for women’s teams will be hosted in the Mexican cities of León and Aguascalientes on 17-26 August with 16 teams participating, including defending champions Italy and runners up Serbia as part of the CEV’s quota. They will join by host nation Mexico, alongside Japan and China from the AVC, Egypt and Tunisia from the CAVB, Brazil and Argentina from the CSV and the USA and Cuba from NORCECA. In addition, the Netherlands, Poland, Dominican Republic, Türkiye and Thailand have qualified via the World Ranking.

The U21 World Championship for men’s teams is set to be staged in Manama, Bahrain from 7 to 16 July with 16 teams battling it out for the gold medals. Italy, the champions of 2021 will be returning, as will bronze medalists Poland. In addition, hosts Bahrain will be joined by Iran and India from the AVC, Egypt and Tunisia from the CAVB, Brazil and Argentina from the CSV and the USA and Mexico from NORCECA. Completing the line-up via the World Ranking are Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechia and Thailand.

Moving onto the U19 World Championships, the women’s edition will be co-hosted by Croatia and Hungary in the cities of Osijek and Szeged from 1-11 August. The number of participating teams for this event has also increased from 20 to 24 to facilitate co-hosting.

Italy, runners-up of the 2021 edition, and bronze medalists USA will return for the 2023 edition. They will be joined by hosts Croatia and Hungary, as well as Peru, Nigeria and Canada via the World Ranking. Qualifying via the Continental Confederation’s quotas are Japan, China, Korea and Thailand from the AVC; Egypt and Cameroon from the CAVB; Türkiye, Germany, Serbia, Poland and Bulgaria from the CEV; Argentina, Brazil and Chile via the CSV, and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico from NORCECA.

Finally, the U19 World Championship for men’s teams will be staged in San Juan, Argentina from 2-11 August with 20 participating teams. Host country Argentina will be joined by Japan, Iran, India and Korea from the AVC; Nigeria and Egypt from the CAVB; Italy, France, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia and Belgium from the CEV; Brazil, Columbia and Chile from the CSV, and the USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica from NORCECA.

Tepic Elite16 main draw set after top-level qualifier

TEPIC, Mexico, March 23, 2023.- The last four spots in each gender in the main draw of the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16 were filled on Wednesday, when the qualifier took place in the two sand courts set up at the Amado Nervo Auditorium.

After the completion of the 24 matches of the day, men’s duos from Italy, the Netherlands and USA, and women’s teams from France, Italy, Spain and USA earned the right of competing among the 16 tandems that will fight for the titles in Mexico.

Watch the Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16 live or on demand on VBTV.

The main draw begins on Thursday, at 9:00 local time (16:00 UTC) and the first 16 pool matches in each gender will be played. By the end of the day, each team will have played a pair of matches in Tepic.

Americans Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk were among the four men’s teams that succeeded in the men’s qualifier. A new team for the 2023 season, the two are playing in just their second tournament as partners and looking to bounce back from a 19th-place finish last week in La Paz, where they dropped both of their matches.

“Honestly, we didn’t feel at our best out there, but we’re working, we’re a new team,” Schalk remarked. “We’re working through stuff and it was awesome to find that energy and will to make it happen no matter what today. These qualifiers are absolutely gnarly, there are some amazing teams from all over the world here and to get through it was huge for us. We’re hungry and want to make a long run in the tournament.”

The Americans were challenged by a pair of Austrian teams on the qualifier in Tepic, overcoming Martin Ermacora and Philipp Waller in two sets (21-17, 21-15) and Robin Seidl and Moritz Pristauz in the tie-breaker (16-21, 21-19, 15-13).

Bourne and Schalk will be in Pool B in the main draw, where they’re going to face Sweden’s David Åhman/Jonatan Hellvig, Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner and Germany’s Nils Ehlers/Clemens Wickler.

Their fellow Americans and former partners Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner will complete Pool C, where they will compete with the Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, Italy’s Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri and Estonia’s Kusti Nõlvak/Mart Tiisaar. The USA duo moved forward with triumphs over Canada’s Sam Schachter/Dan Dearing and Brazil’s Andre Loyola/George Wanderley.

Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss USA

Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16 – Match Schedule & Results

Among the four women’s teams advancing in the women’s qualifier were USA’s Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, the winners of last week’s La Paz Challenge. After topping Mexico’s Esperanza Albarran/Yeray Vidaurrazaga and Japan’s Miki Ishii/Sayaka Mizoe in the qualifier, they will now have fellow Americans Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes, Australia’s Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy and Mexico’s Abril Flores/Atenas Gutierrez as their next opponents on Pool D.

10 NORCECA teams in the Main Draw

Women Sarah Hughes / Kelly Cheng – USAJulia Scoles / Betsi Flint – USAMelissa Humana-Paredes / Brandi Wilkerson – CanadaSarah Pavan / Sophie Bukovec – CanadaTerese Cannon / Sarah Sponcil – USAAtenas Gutierrez / Abril Flores – Mexico

Men Juan Virgen / Miguel Sarabia – Mexico, Tri Bourne / Chaim Schalk – USA, Trevor Crabb / Theo Brunner – USA

Kloth and Nuss secure La Paz Challenge title

LA PAZ, Mexico, March 19, 2023.- Second-seeded Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss ended a solid week at the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge with the gold medals around their necks as the 25-year-old Americans were the winners of the event held in Mexico.

Kloth and Nuss prevailed in the all-American gold medal match against Savvy Simo and Toni Rodriguez, taking their compatriots down in two sets (21-16, 21-13) to claim the title. Brazilians Tainá Bigi and Victoria Lopes finished third in La Paz.

All Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge match replays are available on VBTV.

The Americans were strongly challenged by compatriots Simo and Rodriguez at the start of the gold medal match and trailed until the middle of the opening set, when they found their rhythm, took control and never looked back.

“What a battle,” Nuss reflected. “Hats off to our fellow Americans, what a game and what a tournament they had. We got into the final knowing it was going to be a very tough match and only focused on our side of the net. The atmosphere here in La Paz has been absolutely unreal and this is what beach volleyball is about. We loved it.”

Playing in only their second international season, Kloth and Nuss have already secured their third Beach Pro Tour title, following victories at last year’s Kuşadası Challenge, in Türkiye, and Coolangatta Futures, in Australia. The Americans have played in 11 international tournaments together and never finished outside of the top ten.

“It was a very difficult tournament,” Kloth remarked. “There were so many great teams playing and a lot of three-set matches that could really have gone either way. And the fans were amazing, there was such a great turnout to every single match that we played. It was such a fun tournament .”

Action Gold Medal Match

Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge – Results

Despite their loss in the gold medal match, the 24-year-old Simo and the 26-year-old Rodriguez also leave La Paz with a lot to celebrate. The La Paz Challenge was just their second Beach Pro Tour event and the first in which they got to play in the main draw and they advanced all the way to the gold medal match, winning seven of the eight matches they played in Mexico, starting from Thursday’s qualifier.

The Beach Pro Tour remains in Mexico for another week with the city of Tepic hosting an Elite16 tournament from March 22-26.

Tread Rosenthal earns MVP award at NORCECA U19 Pan American Cup

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 18, 2023.- Tread Rosenthal team captain of the United States earned the Most Valuable Player MVP Award on Saturday after his team won back to back at the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup title in Guatemala.

Tread Rosenthal received the MVP recognition during the closing ceremony at the Guatemala City Dome. Tread also won the individual award for the Best Setter in the tournament.

Also from team USA, outside hitter Sean Kelley was the First Best Spiker, middle blocker Joshua Aruya the Second Best Blocker and libero Kallen Larson the Best Receiver.

Individual Awards NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup

From Nicaragua, libero Osmar Peralta was named the Best Libero and Best Digger of the event, and Angelo Guadamuz the award of First Best Blocker.

The award of Second Best Spiker was handed to outside hitter Franco Roark of Puerto Rico.

Costa Ricans Yulius Brown and Stanley Grant received the Best Opposite and Best Scorer awards respectively.

Team captain of Guatemala Adolfo Rivas was granted the recognition of Best Server.

United States wins back to back NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American title

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 18, 2023.- United States beat Mexico 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-20) to win back to back Boys U19 Pan American title on Saturday in Guatemala City.

United States won their second gold medal in a row undefeated (5-0) against Mexico just like last year; in 2011 they won a bronze medal also over Mexico. This is Mexico’s third silver medal in a row and in 2017 they beat Chile for the gold; Mexico ended the event 4-2.

The U.S. held a 47-33 advantage in attacks and a huge 10-4 margin in blocks; both teams scored two points from serves. United States committed 16 unforced errors against 26 from Mexico.

Sean Kelly (USA) top scorer

Outside hitter Sean Kelly of United States scored a match-high of 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks. Outside hitter Sterling Foley added 12 points on 9 kills, two blocks and one ace, followed by opposite hitter Finn Kearney collecting 11 points on 10 kills and one ace.

Outside hitter Ines Vargas and opposite hitter Julio Serrano topped Mexico’s scores with 12 points each.

Matthew Fuerbringer (USA) head coach

Sean Kelly, top scorer of United States: “I feel amazing being back here in Guatemala, there’s a lot of fans supporting us, it’s awesome to play with the team again and we felt so connected. We could have been better, but a win is a win. I believe our serving and blocking can still improve”.

Matthew Fuerbringer, head coach of United States: “I expected a battle. The change the coach made by putting Vargas (#7) as opposite was really good for his team, gave them a lot of options in offense, they have a great setter with good ball control; they’re such a tough team and they don’t make mistakes and they battled. I am really proud of my boys, there were a lot of tough moments being close and it got intense, they could’ve hesitated but instead they went harder and made the plays that mattered”.

Oscar Viña, head coach of Mexico: “My team battled and battled, but there was a moment when they couldn’t give more, mostly when we reached point 22 in the first two sets they lost energy and in the third at point 18 they couldn’t give more. This happens when you face a powerful team like the United States, we need more elements on the team”.

Puerto Rico battles five sets to win the Bronze Medal

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 18, 2023.- Puerto Rico battled five sets against Costa Rica 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12) to win the bronze medal of the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup on Saturday in Guatemala.

After the five grueling sets, Puerto Rico celebrated their second consecutive bronze medal, third bronze medal in the history of the event. They also won a silver medal in 2011. For Costa Rica, this is the first time a Central American team plays for a place in the podium.

Puerto Rico bounced back from a nail-biting first set loss only to keep on battling strong to stop Costa Rica who performed formidably.

Puerto Rico came out on top with a 69-52 advantage in kills and a 5-1 margin in aces; Costa Rica held a slim 10-9 margin in blocks. Puerto Rico committed a sizeable amount of 44 unforced errors against 24 from Costa Rica.

Ricardo Ortiz of Puerto Rico digs

Outside hitter Victor Torres led Puerto Rico with 22 points on 19 kills and three blocks, accompanied by outside hitter Franco Roark who produced 17 points on 16 kills and one ace, while team captain Ramon Rosado added 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace.

Costa Rican opposite hitter Yulius Brown scored a match-high of 24 points on 22 kills and two blocks. Also contributing to Costa Rica’s campaign was outside hitter Stanley Grant with 16 points on 15 kills and one block, followed by Julian Araya who tallied 12 points.

Yulius Brown (CRC) spikes, Dylan Velazquez (PUR) blocks

Ramón Rosado, captain of Puerto Rico: “Costa Rica deserves the credit, in my opinion they are the team that has improved the most in this tournament, even from last year. I am glad about the boys’ performance who in moments of pressure responded and did a great effort”.  

Carlos De Sevilla, head coach of Puerto Rico: “Costa Rica gave a great performance. We started too slow and things weren’t working out, we had too many attacking errors. We enjoyed it and our intentions were to play the final, but we are taking a medal to the island. We battled up to the last point”.

David Córdoba, captain of Costa Rica: “We had a good presentation, we couldn’t win. We gave a good match to all of Costa Rica and this beautiful crowd supported us the whole game. We’ve had great improvement from last year and we hope someday to win a medal at this type of event.